Star Of Broadway's COME FROM AWAY, Astrid Van Wieren, To Host Dora Awards

Star Of Broadway's COME FROM AWAY, Astrid Van Wieren, To Host Dora AwardsToday is World Theatre Day and the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts (TAPA) fittingly announced the host, date, creative team, and venue for the 39th Annual Dora Mavor Moore Awards, the awards show and party that celebrates extraordinary Toronto talent in the performing arts.

Dora Awards Producer Jacoba Knaapen announced that award-winning actor Astrid Van Wieren, who originated the role of Beulah in the landmark Canadian musical Come From Away - and is also one of the stars of this smash hit currently on Broadway - will host the much-anticipated event. (A different critically acclaimed, all-Canadian production of Come >From Away is now on stage at the Royal Alexandra Theatre.)

Ms Knaapen also announced that the 2018 Dora Mavor Moore Awards will take place on Monday, June 25 in the Winter Garden Theatre of the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Centre. The multi-talented Emmy, Gemini and Dora-nominated Diane Flacks will pen the celebratory evening for her third year in a row while acclaimed theatre director, actor and writer Ed Roy takes the helm as director for his sixth time. Multi-award-winning lighting and production designer Andrea Lundy returns for her 17th consecutive year.

Originally workshopped at Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario, Come From Away has become a "Best Musical" winner all across North America. It features a book, music and lyrics by Canada's own Grammy and two-time Tony Award nominees and Dora Mavor Moore Award, Outer Critics Circle Award and Drama Desk Award winners Irene Sankoff and David Hein. Their multi-award-winning hit musical is based on the remarkable true story of when a small town in Newfoundland welcomed 7,000 stranded passengers after 38 planes were diverted to Gander's air strip on September 11, 2001. In the face of a world gripped by fear, this remote town overcame distrust to become the epicentre of uncommon generosity and showed the best that humanity could be, opening their homes and hearts to strangers.

Ms Knaapen noted, "This uplifting musical won three Dora Mavor Moore Awards last year for its sold out run at the Royal Alexandra Theatre including Outstanding New Musical and Outstanding Production of a Musical as well as the Jon Kaplan Audience Choice Award. It opened on Broadway just over a year ago, earning seven Tony Award nominations, winning Best Direction of a Musical. I am so proud to announce that one of its stars, Canadian actor Astrid Van Wieren, who originated the role of Beulah and performed it not only in its world premiere at California's famed La Jolla Playhouse (in co-production with Seattle Repertory Theatre) but in all its incarnations up to its current Broadway run, will fly from New York to Toronto on her day off to host the 39th Annual Dora Mavor Moore Awards. I couldn't be more proud to make this announcement on World Theatre Day, a day where people all around the world celebrate the power of theatre."

Created in 1961 by UNESCO, the impetus behind World Theatre Day is to honour and further the goal of UNESCO's International Theatre Institute (ITI) to celebrate theatre as an indispensable bridge-builder for mutual international understanding and peace as well as to promote and protect cultural diversity and identity in communities throughout the world. "Given its themes, announcing an actor from Come From Away as host of the 2018 Dora Mavor Moore Awards could not be more appropriate on this day," Ms Knaapen added.

Since 2011, the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres (PACT), together with l'Association des théâtres francophones du Canada (ATFC) and the Playwrights Guild of Canada (PGC), has commissioned a message each year to promote and celebrate World Theatre Day from a distinctly Canadian perspective. For 2018, this message is written by the award-winning director Nina Lee Aquino, the current Artistic Director of Toronto's Factory Theatre. The full text of her speech can be downloaded here:
https://pact.ca/services-support/the-case-for-theatre/world-theatre-day/.

The 39th Annual Dora Mavor Moore Awards ceremony takes place in the Winter Garden Theatre of the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Centre. The always-fabulous pre-show VIP Reception takes place in the Lobbies of the venue and the fun-filled After-Party will take place in and around the venue.

Tickets for this celebratory evening go on sale May 31 through the box office at the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Centre, either in person at the theatre at 189 Yonge Street or by calling 1-855-622-2787, and online via http://www.tapa.ca.

The 2018 Dora Awards host Astrid Van Wieren, a graduate of Toronto's Ryerson Theatre School, is also a Dora Award-winning actress for This Wide Night (Mermaid Parade/Mercury Stage Productions). She originated the roles of Beulah in Come From Away (La Jolla Playhouse, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Ford's Theatre, Royal Alexandra Theatre/Mirvish Productions and Broadway), Germaine in Belles Soeurs - The Musical (Montreal's Segal Centre and Ottawa's National Arts Centre) and Sheilagh Fielding in The Colony of Unrequited Dreams (Artistic Fraud of Newfoundland/National Arts Centre). She was also in the original North American premiere of Mamma Mia! and the subsequent first U.S. national tour. She co-wrote, co-produced and stars in the indie feature The River You Step In.

The 2018 Dora Awards writer Diane Flacks recently wrote and starred in Unholy for Nightwood Theatre, nominated for a 2017 Dora Award for Outstanding New Play. Other plays include Myth Me, Waiting Room, By a Thread, SIBS with Richard Greenblatt and Theory of Relatives. Flacks writes for TV including Global/NBC's Working the Engels and CBC TV's Working Moms, Baroness Von Sketch Show, Young Drunk Punk and Kids in the Hall. She is currently the supervising producer of Qanuril, an Inuit language comedy for APTN.

The Doras are named for Dora Mavor Moore (1888-1979), a well-loved teacher and director who helped establish Canadian professional theatre in the 1930s and 1940s. Recognizing the outstanding achievements in Toronto's performing arts industry, the Doras honour the creators of over 200 theatre, dance and opera productions annually in the following divisions: General Theatre, Independent Theatre, Musical Theatre, Dance, Opera and Theatre for Young Audiences.

TAPA will announce the nominees for the 2018 Dora Mavor Moore Awards at a press conference at the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts on the morning of May 31 where the Province of Ontario's Pauline McGibbon Award and the Leonard McHardy and John Harvey Award for Outstanding Leadership in Administration will also be given out.

The Dora Mavor Moore Awards are administered by the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts (TAPA). In addition to the Doras, other programs and services provided by TAPA include: Toronto's Official Theatre Guide, hipTIX (offering $5 tickets to students between the ages of 14 and 29), citySPECIAL, the Commercial Theatre Development Fund and the Travel Retreat Initiatives Program - TRIP. For more information visit www.tapa.ca




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